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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

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him from a self-centred view of life. " Only the man who pictures
to himself our mother Nature in all her majesty and beholds the
eternal variety of her face, who regards not only himself but even
a whole kingdom as but the merest point, esteems things at their
real worth. In fine, I would have the world my scholar's book.
The many moods, parties, judgments, opinions, laws, and
customs it presents teach us to judge our own with sanity, and
school our judgment to recognize its own imperfection and natural
weakness. That is no light apprenticeship." Along with this
knowledge of men in other parts of the world, and in some ways
more important is the knowledge of men in history through which
the boy makes acquaintance with the great rninds of the best ages.
History can be made a barren study if it is confined to facts and
dates ; but if used to provide material for the exercise of judgment,
as Plutarch so admirably used it, it is a study of incomparable
worth which throws light on the abstrusest parts of human

Only after the foundations have been laid on such an experience
of life as travel and history furnish, does the time come for a more
general education. " When we have taught the boy all that is
necessary to make him wiser and better, then we will explain to
him about logic, physics, geometry and rhetoric, and having had
his judgment trained beforehand he will soon acquire the know-
ledge of his choice." But even in these subjects, if Montaigne
had his way, there would be a difference—so much of a difference
indeed that some of them would practically disappear. Studies
like logic and grammar, it seemed to him, serve little useful
purpose : they are too much occupied with mere words. " Half
our life is passed in empty babble. We are kept learning words
and stitching them into sentences for four or five years, for as
many more in arranging a great mass of them in four or five
divisions; and then for another five at least in learning to mix
and interlace them into some complicated pattern." And what is
the good of it all ? " If only one has plenty of facts, the words
will follow quickly enough." Instead of logic and the other
verbal sciences the pupil would be far better to occupy himself
with the philosophy of life. Aristotle, he says (quoting Plutarch
with approval), did not waste the time of his great pupil Alexander
in the trick of making syllogisms or with the laws of geometry,
but rather taught him good maxims about courage, prowess,